Retirement and learning: A longitudinal qualitative approach

Siu Ling Maureen TAM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper discusses retirement as a learning process, where learning, be it formal or informal, enables retirees to adjust to the transition from work to retirement. Such discussion is important given the fact that the world population is aging and that more people are retiring in the next few decades. Moreover, people are experiencing an increased length of retirement due to longer lifespan. Promoting the retirement experience as a productive learning process will bring huge social benefits to impact all involved, including the individual retirees themselves. Much early retirement research considered retirement as a monolithic event, which affects all retirees in similar ways, thereby justifying a cross-sectional approach to take a snapshot of the adjustment process. Such approach falls short of capturing the dynamic process that is characteristic of the retirement transition; and masks individual differences as retirees conceptualize, experience, and negotiate their own ways through the process of adaptation as it unfolds during the transition from work to retirement. This paper argues that in order to obtain in-depth understanding of the individual experiences in the retirement transition and to gain insight into the role of learning in the process, we need to use a qualitative, longitudinal approach to track and reflect the different patterns of change for retirees at different points in time. By examining the process of change and the retirement experiences of retirees using a longitudinal qualitative approach, we should be able to illustrate, how an individual learn to experience and adapt to retirement, so as to support the claim that the retirement process is unique and that learning is an integral part of that process. Copyright © 2017 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number1
Early online dateOct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Tam, M. (2018). Retirement and learning: A longitudinal qualitative approach. Educational Gerontology, 44(1), 54-63. doi: 10.1080/03601277.2017.1389486


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